For his directorial debut—the third official remake of William A. Wellman’s 1937 showbiz melodrama—Bradley Cooper really seems to have learned from George Cukor’s 1954 version of the story: his wide-screen compositions are bold and expansive, the emotional content nuanced and perceptive, and the musical numbers work to deepen one’s understanding of the characters. The film pales in comparison to Cukor’s masterpiece (but then, what showbiz melodrama doesn’t?), in large part because Cooper, playing the self-destructive star who’s unable to handle his wife’s success when it begins to eclipse his own, doesn’t convey the repressed self-loathing that made James Mason so poignant in the role. Pop singer Lady Gaga is quite good as the wife, however; she subtly and convincingly manages the character’s transformation from vulnerable ingenue to self-confident celebrity. The effective supporting cast includes Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, and Anthony Ramos.
A Star Is Born
R • 2 hours 15 min • 2018